7 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays in Munich
If you are spending the holiday season in Munich, you are in for a real treat. Atmospheric Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) spring up all over Munich’s Old Town, churches and cathedrals are filled with holiday singing and organ recitals, and Munich’s shopping streets are decked out in sparkling Christmas decoration. And all that with the romantic backdrop of the snow-capped Alps. Munich is German Christmas at its finest.
1. Christkindl Christmas Market
Munich’s famous Christmas market, the Christkindl Markt, dates back to 1642. It is celebrated on the city’s central square, Marienplatz, in the heart of the Old Town. A 100-feet high Christmas tree towers over traditionally decorated booths which offer everything from mulled wine and Lebkuchen (gingerbread), to Bavarian woodcarvings, handmade toys, and glass crystals.
Markets open on November 25th and are held daily til December 24th, 2016. Don’t miss the traditional Christmas concerts that are held every day at 17:30 on the balcony of Munich's Town Hall for free.
2. Christmas Music in Munich's Church of Our Lady
What’s the holiday season without Christmas carols? One of the most atmospheric spots to listen to German Christmas music is the impressive Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady). Its twin towers are a landmark of Munich's skyline.
Throughout December, Bavarian choirs and musicians herald the season with classical concerts, organ recitals, and music-filled church services. Note that church services free, but tickets are required for concerts.
3. Skate at the Scenic Ice Rinks
Munich has several ice skating rinks to choose from, but the best for the holidays is Munich’s largest open-air ice-skating rink, Muenchner Eizsauber (Munich Ice Magic). It is set-up every November through January in Munich’s famous shopping district at the Karlspatz Square. Bring the kids during the day or come here with a date to glide under the stars at night with chill music and a light show. You can treat yourself to some mulled wine from the booths surrounding the ice rink to warm up.
Entrance costs 5 - 8.50 euros (depending on time of day; discounts for children) and skates are available for rental.
4. Celebrate at Tollwood Winter Festival
The Tollwood Winter Festival is held on the same fairgrounds as Oktoberfest and features an international Christmas market, where you can hunt for treasures from around the world and sample organic ethnic food. Locals love this festival for its colorful cultural program, which is famous for its world music, art workshops, and theatre and circus performances.
The market is held from November 23rd till December 31st, 2017 (closed December 26th). Entrance is free, but some performances require tickets. If you arrive after Christmas, take part in the legendary Silvester (New Year’s Eve) party.
5. Get Pious at the Manger Market
Munich’s manger market (Kripperlmarkt) is in walking distance to the city’s famous Christkindlmarkt and dates back to 1757. It is devoted to mangers and nativity figures made in Germany. From baby Jesus and the Christmas angel, to animals, lanterns for the barn, and the gifts of the three Magi, the manger market offers wonderful souvenirs and everything you’ll need to create your own nativity scene.
The market opens November 27th and runs till December 24th.
6. Be Charmed by the Christmas Village in the Royal Residence
In the center of Munich’s elegant Royal Residence, you’ll find a charming Christmas village. Small traditional wood huts are dwarfed by the palace, complete with a little chapel and a life-seized nativity scene.
Watch traditional toy makers, goldsmiths, wood carvers, glassblowers, and knife grinders at work, while the kids take a ride on historic carousels or meet Nikolaus, the German Santa Claus. There is also a stage with daily live music and entertainment.
The village opens on November 23rd till December 22nd.
7. Enjoy a Pink Christmas
Munich is one of the more conservative places in Germany, but that doesn't mean their largest festivals don't cater to the LGBT community. If you had your share of traditional German Christmas markets, try the 13th season of Pink Christmas for a gay and lesbian market.
There are white pagoda tents and delightfully tacky pink plastic Christmas trees. Everything is softly lit as market-goers enjoy the handcrafted wares from local designers and delicious market food. Pink Christmas is free, beloved for its live entertainment and cool beats, and it’s a fun place for the whole family.
This market opens November 27th at Stephansplatz with showtimes at 19:00 every day.